Crunch time: Demolition of the Alaskan Way Viaduct is underway
Contractor Kiewit Infrastructure West Co., began demolishing the Alaskan Way Viaduct today, Feb. 15. Over the course of approximately six months, they will use large machinery to crunch, munch and cut the structure into pieces to be hauled away by truck. When the viaduct is gone, the City of Seattle will begin work on a new surface street and public open space along the waterfront.
Demolition started today in two locations: at the Columbia Street on-ramp, and a section of the viaduct near Pike Street. Soon a third crew will begin work at the viaduct’s very north end near the intersection of Western Avenue and Bell Street. Demolition will occur in sections, with crews generally spending no more than 30 days working in each area. This video explains the demolition plan in more detail. A new interactive web tracker will provide weekly work zone progress updates.
The demolition contract requires Kiewit to protect buildings, streets and utilities as they complete their work. They also must keep businesses open and people moving. Alaskan Way will remain open throughout demolition, though it will be reduced to one lane in each direction in areas directly adjacent to the work zone. Closures of streets that intersect with Alaskan Way will be minimized as well, to keep east-west access between the waterfront and downtown open.
The waterfront, Pike Place Market and Pioneer Square will all be open for business throughout demolition, and will provide good vantage points for watching this historic transformation unfold. Visitors can take advantage of the free Waterfront Shuttle that runs between the downtown waterfront and three nearby neighborhoods (Seattle Center, Pioneer Square and the Central Business District). The shuttle program, extended through summer 2019, is paid for with WSDOT funding set aside to help neighborhoods most affected by the project. Information about nearby parking is available at downtownseattleparking.com.
In addition to viaduct demolition, Kiewit’s contract includes work to decommission and seal the Battery Street Tunnel. They will also reconnect John and Thomas streets across Aurora Avenue North, just north of the Battery Street Tunnel. Those streets have been closed to east-west crossings for more than 60 years. This work will involve lane reductions and closures near the new SR 99 tunnel’s north portal.